Lawmaker proposes Legislative Council help draft initiated measures

Mar 21, 2018

Initiative and Referred Measures Commission meets 3/20/18.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A Legislator is suggesting a way to help groups who want to initiate a measure to have better and more understandable drafts of those measures.

Rep. Scott Louser (R-Minot) wants to require initiated measures to be drafted by the Legislative Council, so the measures would fit into North Dakota laws.

Louser told the Initiative and Referred Measures Commission once a steering committee of 25 people came up with an idea, the committee would take it to a legislator. The legislator would take the idea to the Council for drafting. Then once the draft satisfies the committee, it would be taken for signature gathering. Louser said after the required signatures were gathered, the bill would be introduced in the Legislative session. Amendments would not be allowed. And if the measure was defeated or vetoed, it would go on the statewide ballot, to give North Dakota voters a final say.

"The ability to go to Legislative Council and say, 'Here's an idea -- how does it work in our Century Code?' is invaluable," Louser said.

Louser said this would have helped get the medical marijuana initiative – passed by voters in 2016 – approved without having to have Legislative changes. That initiative was rewritten by the Legislature in the 2017 session, to make sure it complied with other state statutes.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger, a member of the Commission, agreed with that.

"The day the medical marijuana petition came to my desk, I knew it was functionally impossible to administer," Jaeger told the Commission. "If it had been written properly, it is my opinion it would be functioning already."

The Commission has not taken action on that bill draft. It is considering a number of proposals on initiative and referendum to present to the 2019 Legislature.

Three bills on a list of 15 proposals were withdrawn.